West Point aiming for net zero energy use

U.S. Army is serious about solar, installing solar panels as a “very visible and a very recognizable part of our renewable energy initiative that can immediately click with the general public” as it makes its military academy net zero, while encouraging cadets to become renewable energy leaders. Hm, sounds like Decatur County with its solar industrial park and what we could do here with solar Lowndes High.

Mike Strasser wrote Army PR 29 November 2012, Solar panels deliver new energy to West Point’s Net Zero initiative,

The installation of solar panels on the roof of the Lichtenberg Tennis Center—780 panels, to be exact—in recent weeks represents West Point’s continuing efforts to achieve energy sustainability.

Since becoming a Net Zero Energy pilot installation last April, West Point has been making strides toward the ultimate goal of producing as much energy as it uses by 2020. According to an environmental assessment for the U.S. Army Environmental Command and West Point Garrison, the installation currently generates less than .02 percent of the energy it consumes from renewable sources. Matt Talaber, Department of Public Works engineer and director, said the solar panels will be a step in the right direction.

“The solar panels are very visible and a very recognizable part of our renewable energy initiative that can immediately click with the general public,” Talaber said. “It’s a positive image that shows West Point is interested in renewable energy and is working on its Net Zero energy goals.”

And they’re also improving conservation and efficiency. Plus this:

“When we renovate now we are much more sensitive to energy standards and new energy codes,” Talaber said. “But because we are Net Zero we’ve tried to go above and beyond the simple things like glazing of windows and building insulation. Part of our Energy Savings Performance contract, the first one we had, the company is conducting work on behavioral change and getting the message out about conservation.”

Hm, going beyond the bare legally required minimum: there’s a concept!

Mike Strasser wrote 16 May 2012 for the Army, Energy expert challenges cadets to become new energy leaders, about Michael Webber, Ph.D. visiting West Point from the U. Texas at Austin.

“So the good news is we share the world’s challenges with energy, which means we have opportunities for partnerships to solve it,” Webber said. “The difference being, we consume a fifth of the world’s energy even though we’re three percent of the world’s population.”

If the bad news is the U.S. consumes 20 percent of the world’s energy, what’s worse is we generate 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and 20 percent of the world’s trash.

Webber offered his best guess on future trends and shifts in energy. He said energy will get smarter, cleaner and it will be self-fueled for transportation. What it will take to get there is energy efficiency, conservation, reducing waste, better markets and policy and fuel switching.

I think he’s far too willing to treat the environment as something to trade off, and he’s not really recognizing how fast Moore’s Law will increase solar deployments, but at least he’s trying to get cadets to think seriously about the problems.

“We really need you. We need new energy leadership. The way I see it, this is your generation’s Cold War,” Webber said. “It’s going to take decades to solve this, but in 30 years, 40 years, we’re going to look back and say, ‘Those cadets did it. They figured it out for us.’ That’s what we need from you, and I hope you take the call to rise to the challenge.”

Go Army cadets! And they’re not the only ones who can get on with figuring it out and doing something about it. We can, too.